By BassFan Staff

It’s been said before that things can change in an instant on the Great Lakes. The remark is usually made in reference to the weather, which can be glorious one hour and a nightmare the next.

Through 3 days of the Lake Michigan Elite Series, the weather’s been a non-issue and it’s allowed the anglers to attack the available water in every way imaginable. The one place things did change today, however, was the leaderboard.



There was a youth movement, of sorts, as Brandon Palaniuk became the third different leader of the tournament after he boxed a 21-02 limit, the heaviest of the event so far. The Idaho pro, who won at Bull Shoals Lake earlier this season, sits atop the standings with 56-02, just 4 ounces clear of Michigan native Jonathon VanDam, who also cracked the 20-pound mark. His 20-12 stringer was the first across the scales today and it pushed his total to 55-14.

After that, 16 pounds was considered a strong sack as only three others among the Top 49 cracked that number. One of them was day-1 leader Aaron Martens, who caught 16-01 but slipped a spot to 3rd with 53-00.

Dean Rojas, the leader after day 2, endured a tough day, but managed 13-08 and occupies 4th with 51-04. Tommy Biffle caught 16-10 in the Fox River today and rounds out the Top 5 with 47-07.

Here's a look at the Top 12 entering the final day of competition, with the deficit margin from Palaniuk indicated by red numbers in parentheses:

1. Brandon Palaniuk: 56-02
2. Jonathon VanDam: 55-14 (00-04)
3. Aaron Martens: 53-00 (3-02)
4. Dean Rojas: 51-04 (4-14)
5. Tommy Biffle: 47-07 (8-11)
6. Ott DeFoe: 46-06 (9-12)
7. Ish Monroe: 45-01 (11-01)
8. Skeet Reese: 44-07 (11-11)
9. James Niggemeyer: 43-05 (12-13)
10. Stephen Browning: 42-15 (13-03)
11. Russ Lane: 42-09 (13-09)
12. Bernie Schultz: 42-07 (13-11)

A number of pros who either occupied a spot among the Top 12 heading out this morning or had designs on moving into the final group struggled and failed to bring in limits, costing them a 4th day on the water.

Among them were John Crews, Jr. and Greg Hackney, who entered the day tied for 5th. Hackney weighed in two fish for 5-10 and fell to 25th with 39-11. Crews also weighed two and tumbled to 30th with 38-09. Chris Zaldain, who was 7th after day 3, had four fish for 8-02 and settled for 14th, missing the cut by 12 ounces.

Kevin VanDam went out in 20th today after seeing his weight go up 3 pounds from day 1 to day 2. Some figured he would make a charge into the Top 12 today, but he managed to bring in just three for 10-14, which actually moved him up a spot to 19th with 40-04.

The game of musical chairs continued in the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) standings. Brent Chapman maintained the lead he regained yesterday as he finished 27th, his sixth finish of 30th or better this season. He’s currently 14 points ahead of Ott DeFoe, who made the cut in 6th and could close the gap by the end of tomorrow. Todd Faircloth finished 29th today and remained in the AOY picture in 3rd.

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Palaniuk will be shooting for his second win of the season tomorrow.

Through the first 2 days, there was no shortage of crowding in the northeast corner of the fishable portion of the Bay of Green Bay, near Little Sturgeon Bay, Sand Bay and Rileys Bay. That should be a non-issue tomorrow with just 12 boats heading out.

Both Palaniuk and Jonathon VanDam have had the luxury of being off by themselves through 3 days and that could play a big factor tomorrow as most of their closest pursuers have been fishing pressured water all week.

Temperatures are expected to touch 90 degrees tomorrow amid partly cloudy skies in the Green Bay area. Offshore winds are forecasted to be in the 10- to 15-knot range with waves of 2 feet or less expected.

After tomorrow, the Elite Series will take a 6-week break before reconvening at Oneida Lake outside of Syracuse, N.Y., in late August for its season finale.

Palaniuk Thinks Another 20 Is Possible

> Day 3: 5, 21-01 (15, 56-02)

Walking into Lambeau Field today after the weigh-ins to shoot some video and photos for B.A.S.S., Palaniuk tried to soak in the aura and history of the stadium.

“It was pretty dang cool,” he said. “I’m not a huge football fan, but it was just cool to see something of that caliber. It’s a big, big place.”

Know what else would be “pretty dang cool” for the 24-year-old? If he could cinch up his second Elite Series win of the season tomorrow.

He took a major step in that direction today, eclipsing the 21-pound mark and leaping from 4th place to the lead. He said he had to slow down some today once he re-found his key fish.

“It didn’t start out as quick as it had the first 2 days,” he said. “They moved a little bit and I decided to get back on them. Once I found them, I was able to figure them out a little better. I saw a lot more fish that would follow up in those areas.

“I’m just praying those fish stay there one more day because there’s another 20 pounds there.”

When told VanDam mentioned the same thing about his area’s potential, he said, “This could come down to ounces. It’ll really come down to execution and the little things.”

While he’s been fishing virtually by himself all week, he uncovered a new spot today that kicked out a 4-pounder before he had to head in. He might fall back on that area if his primary area dries up on day 4.

Having been through the rigors of being the day-3 leader already at Bull Shoals, he’s able to approach tomorrow with a more relaxed mindset.

“I’m a lot more calm now,” he added. “Already having the Classic berth helps a lot. Having that kind of helps me relax a little where I can go out and just have fun.

“I want to win every single event. I want to blow the doors off of every event I fish. I hate, hate, hate 2nd place.”

2nd: JVD Around 5s And 6s

> Day 3: 5, 20-12 (15, 55-14)

Twice as an Elite Series rookie last year, VanDam got to experience fishing on Sunday, finishing 5th at the Harris Chain and 6th at the Arkansas River.

Tomorrow, he’ll have another taste of the Top-12 experience. Only this time, a win is within reach.

“It’s pretty awesome,” he said. “I’d definitely like to have a good day tomorrow. I’m going to do whatever I can do.”

Asked if there’s another 20-pound sack in the water’s he’s fishing, he said, “Definitely.”

He didn’t notice many changes today, but mentioned the bite would certainly pick up if the wind would blow a little.

He didn’t catch “a ton” of keeper, but boated a good amount. He’s seen flurries in the morning and afternoon sandwiched around a mid-day lull.

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Jonathon VanDam would love to close out a win with friends and family on hand.

“There are a lot of 5- and 6-pound class fish swimming around there,” he added. “There are a lot of big ones there and they’re feeding.”

3rd: Martens Moved Around

> Day 3: 5, 16-01 (15, 53-00)

Martens had to move around considerably more today to catch his weight, but he’s looking forward to tomorrow when he can attack certain areas the way he wants to.

“I had to move around and fish new stuff today and I’m going to fish new stuff tomorrow,” he said. “I spot I had on day 1 got covered up today. After I left it and tried to come back, there were seven boats on it.”

Knowing the pressure has likely taken a toll on the smallmouths lurking beneath – his weight has steadily dropped since catching 20-00 on day 1 – he didn’t see the volume of bites he had been seeing.

“Today was a lot tougher,” he added. “I only caught maybe 12 or 14 keepers, but once I found them, I caught them good. I think they just moved again. In practice, when I found them I could really hammer them.”

He’s not sure Palaniuk or VanDam can catch another 20 pounds, but it’s possible, he said.

“One of them could or both could,” he said. “I need 23 or 24 to make sure. It could happen.”

5th: Biffle Caught ‘Em Quick

> Day 3: 5, 16-10 (15, 47-07)

Most of Biffle’s weight came before 8 a.m. today as he worked around the De Pere Energy Center building in the Fox River as he has all tournament.

“There’s plenty there,” he said. “I just need a couple 4-pounders to bite to have a shot. There are plenty of 2 1/2s and 3s in there. I may be out of the deal to win it, but if the wind blows tomorrow and those guys aren’t able to run the lake, I might have a shot.”

He hasn’t made many adjustments, but today he did throw a few different colors of the Gene Larew Biffle Bug rigged on a Biffle HardHead jig.

His only concern for tomorrow involves the current coming out of the power plant. If there’s a good current, he think the spot can kick out 17 or 18 pounds.

“Every day, it comes out different,” he said. “Some times, it runs just right. Yesterday, it ran pretty hard and today it was just right and then it just went away. The only thing is there’s a spillway dam right there and there hadn’t been water running over the dam, but today there was.

“If they don’t push current out of the power plant, I think the fish might gravitate over toward the dam and we can’t fish within 200 feet of the dam. So, I’m hoping the plant is running tomorrow.”

6th: DeFoe Saw Green

> Day 3: 5, 15-00 (15, 46-06)

It was a much tougher day for DeFoe, who weighed in three largemouths as part of his limit.

“On day 1, it was slick and yesterday, with the wind, once you found them, they were pretty easy to catch,” he said. “Today was slick again and it was pretty hard to get a dang bite.”

He’s mostly fishing shallow, but will move out deeper tomorrow if the conditions call for it.

“I finally got in one area (today) and caught some largemouths,” he said, adding he had a pair of 3 1/2-pounders. “There are a few left in there but not a lot. I think there’s enough to get me through.”

He’s going to need every bite he can get to keep pace or gain points in the AOY race.

“Every fish really matters,” he said. “Every bite’s a big deal. That’s my motto for every day, though. Someone asked me the other day if my strategy was going to change. I said, ‘No, I go out and try to catch as much as I can and see where that puts me.’ That’s all I can do.”

He’s caught some fish on a drop-shot rig and had good success the first 2 days throwing a Berkley Gulp! Jerk Shad.

27th: Chapman Stayed In River

> Day 3: 5, 10-13 (15, 39-05)

Chapman said he didn’t make the decision to fish the Fox River until Thursday morning. It paid off in the form of another Top-30 finish and allowed him to retain the lead in the AOY race, which as many expected, will come down to potentially the final day at Oneida Lake.

“On Wednesday night, I was toying with running up the lake, but I decided to stay in the river,” he said. “I wish I’d started 20 yards to my left because that’s where Tommy (Biffle) is at. He’s got the cast down right and the fish are just bigger there.”

He fished around a large power plant building where there was a constant current, but today the bite toughened up.

“The fish were setting up in the current and feeding,” he added. “At certain times, there was more current. It seemed like first thing in the morning, the fish would replenish.”

He managed just five keeper bites today as he also fished a stretch of rocky bank in the river with a shallow crankbait.

“I thought I could go there in the morning and catch them all day,” he said. “But then I went to my other area and Biffle already had most of his weight by then.”

An effective bait for him this week was a Tightlines UV Beaver rigged on a MESU Bait Company BOBaD Wobble Head jig.

He said he’s heading back home to Kansas for a bit, but intends on making a trip to Oneida before it goes off-limits.

Notable

> Day 3 stats – 49 anglers, 32 limits, 3 fours, 6 threes, 5 twos, 1 one, 2 zeroes.

> As was reported earlier today, Alton Jones’ day-3 weight was disqualified after he received assistance from his marshal in order to free his boat from a sandbar outside the mouth of the Fox River. To read more, click here.

> After the weigh-ins, the Top 12 went to Lambeau Field, home of the NFL's Green Bay Packers, to shoot some photos and video for next week's ESPN2 broadcast of the event.

> If he's able to win tomorrow, Palaniuk will become the first angler to win two Elite Series events in the same season since Skeet Reese did it in 2010 (Smith Mountain Lake and Lake Guntersville).

> Reese made the biggest jump today of any angler who qualified for the final round. He went out today in 24th and made the cut in 8th thanks to a 16-01 stringer which gave him 44-07.

Weather Forecast

> Sun., July 1 – Partly Cloudy - 90°/66°
- Wind: From the SSW at 5 to 9 mph

Day 3 Standings

1. Brandon Palaniuk -- Rathdrum, ID -- 15, 56-02 -- 98
Day 1: 5, 18-00 -- Day 2: 5, 17-00 -- Day 3: 5, 21-02

2. Jonathon VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 15, 55-14 -- 97
Day 1: 5, 17-11 -- Day 2: 5, 17-07 -- Day 3: 5, 20-12

3. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, AL -- 15, 53-00 -- 96
Day 1: 5, 20-00 -- Day 2: 5, 16-15 -- Day 3: 5, 16-01

4. Dean Rojas -- Lake Havasu City, AZ -- 15, 51-04 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 19-14 -- Day 2: 5, 17-14 -- Day 3: 5, 13-08

5. Tommy Biffle -- Wagoner, OK -- 15, 47-07 -- 94
Day 1: 5, 17-01 -- Day 2: 5, 13-12 -- Day 3: 5, 16-10

6. Ott DeFoe -- Knoxville, TN -- 15, 46-06 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 16-11 -- Day 2: 5, 14-11 -- Day 3: 5, 15-00

7. Ish Monroe -- Hughson, CA -- 15, 45-01 -- 92
Day 1: 5, 16-13 -- Day 2: 5, 15-05 -- Day 3: 5, 12-15

8. Skeet Reese -- Auburn, CA -- 15, 44-07 -- 91
Day 1: 5, 16-00 -- Day 2: 5, 12-06 -- Day 3: 5, 16-01

9. James Niggemeyer -- Van, TX -- 15, 43-05 -- 90
Day 1: 5, 16-09 -- Day 2: 5, 12-13 -- Day 3: 5, 13-15

10. Stephen Browning -- Hot Springs, AR -- 15, 42-15 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 14-10 -- Day 2: 5, 14-15 -- Day 3: 5, 13-06

11. Russ Lane -- Prattville, AL -- 15, 42-09 -- 88
Day 1: 5, 12-12 -- Day 2: 5, 17-04 -- Day 3: 5, 12-09

12. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 15, 42-07 -- 87
Day 1: 5, 14-14 -- Day 2: 5, 14-12 -- Day 3: 5, 12-13

The following anglers did not make the cut and will not fish on day 4.

13. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 15, 42-02 -- 86 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-01 -- Day 2: 5, 13-06 -- Day 3: 5, 14-11

14. Chris Zaldain -- San Jose, CA -- 14, 41-11 -- 85 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-13 -- Day 2: 5, 16-12 -- Day 3: 4, 08-02

15. David Walker -- Sevierville, TN -- 14, 41-02 -- 84 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-13 -- Day 2: 4, 11-04 -- Day 3: 5, 12-01

16. Terry Scroggins -- San Mateo, FL -- 15, 40-15 -- 83 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-13 -- Day 2: 5, 13-14 -- Day 3: 5, 10-04

17. Scott Rook -- Little Rock, AR -- 15, 40-08 -- 82 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-13 -- Day 2: 5, 13-06 -- Day 3: 5, 11-05

18. Chris Lane -- Guntersville, AL -- 15, 40-05 -- 81 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-12 -- Day 2: 5, 14-15 -- Day 3: 5, 09-10

19. Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 13, 40-04 -- 80 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-01 -- Day 2: 5, 16-05 -- Day 3: 3, 10-14

20. Shaw E Grigsby Jr. Gainesville, FL -- 15, 40-01 -- 79 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-13 -- Day 2: 5, 14-06 -- Day 3: 5, 11-14

21. Kotaro Kiriyama -- Moody, AL -- 15, 40-00 -- 78 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-02 -- Day 2: 5, 12-09 -- Day 3: 5, 15-05

22. Boyd Duckett -- Demopolis, AL -- 15, 39-15 -- 77 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 10-02 -- Day 2: 5, 16-06 -- Day 3: 5, 13-07

23. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 15, 39-14 -- 76 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-02 -- Day 2: 5, 13-02 -- Day 3: 5, 12-10

24. Travis Manson -- De Pere, WI -- 14, 39-11 -- 75 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-07 -- Day 2: 5, 11-01 -- Day 3: 4, 12-03

25. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, LA -- 12, 39-11 -- 74 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-00 -- Day 2: 5, 17-01 -- Day 3: 2, 05-10

26. Derek Remitz -- Grant, AL -- 15, 39-07 -- 73 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-11 -- Day 2: 5, 14-01 -- Day 3: 5, 12-11

27. Brent Chapman -- Lake Quivira, KS -- 15, 39-05 -- 72 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-14 -- Day 2: 5, 14-10 -- Day 3: 5, 10-13

28. Mark Davis -- Mount Ida, AR -- 13, 38-14 -- 71 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-14 -- Day 2: 3, 08-15 -- Day 3: 5, 15-01

29. Todd Faircloth -- Jasper, TX -- 13, 38-10 -- 70 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-03 -- Day 2: 3, 07-08 -- Day 3: 5, 12-15

30. John Crews -- Salem, VA -- 12, 38-09 -- 69 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-06 -- Day 2: 5, 17-11 -- Day 3: 2, 04-08

31. Edwin Evers -- Talala, OK -- 14, 36-10 -- 68 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 11-02 -- Day 2: 4, 10-11 -- Day 3: 5, 14-13

32. Fred Roumbanis -- Bixby, OK -- 15, 36-03 -- 67 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 10-03 -- Day 2: 5, 14-09 -- Day 3: 5, 11-07

33. David Smith -- Del City, OK -- 14, 36-01 -- 66 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-02 -- Day 2: 5, 14-05 -- Day 3: 4, 08-10

34. Takahiro Omori -- Emory, TX -- 12, 34-13 -- 65 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-00 -- Day 2: 5, 18-01 -- Day 3: 2, 04-12

35. Mark Menendez -- Paducah, KY -- 12, 34-13 -- 64 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-09 -- Day 2: 2, 05-00 -- Day 3: 5, 13-04

36. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 15, 34-08 -- 63 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 11-09 -- Day 2: 5, 12-03 -- Day 3: 5, 10-12

37. Timmy Horton -- Muscle Shoals, AL -- 14, 34-06 -- 62 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-04 -- Day 2: 4, 07-15 -- Day 3: 5, 13-03

38. Scott Ashmore -- Broken Arrow, OK -- 13, 34-05 -- 61 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-14 -- Day 2: 5, 13-10 -- Day 3: 3, 04-13

39. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 15, 34-01 -- 60 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-12 -- Day 2: 5, 10-14 -- Day 3: 5, 09-07

40. Yusuke Miyazaki -- Forney, TX -- 11, 33-13 -- 59 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-08 -- Day 2: 5, 17-04 -- Day 3: 1, 02-01

41. Pete Ponds -- Madison, MS -- 12, 33-05 -- 58 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-15 -- Day 2: 4, 11-12 -- Day 3: 3, 07-10

42. Rick Morris -- Lake Gaston, VA -- 13, 32-14 -- 57 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 11-04 -- Day 2: 5, 15-02 -- Day 3: 3, 06-08

43. Matt Herren -- Trussville, AL -- 10, 32-07 -- 56 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-14 -- Day 2: 2, 06-08 -- Day 3: 3, 08-01

44. Bobby Lane -- Lakeland, FL -- 12, 31-15 -- 55 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-08 -- Day 2: 4, 07-05 -- Day 3: 3, 08-02

45. Dustin Wilks -- Rocky Mount, NC -- 12, 31-13 -- 54 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 11-03 -- Day 2: 5, 15-01 -- Day 3: 2, 05-09

46. Chad Griffin -- Cresson, TX -- 14, 31-01 -- 53 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-01 -- Day 2: 4, 09-08 -- Day 3: 5, 09-08

47. Matt Greenblatt -- Port St Lucie, FL -- 10, 28-13 -- 52 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-08 -- Day 2: 3, 10-10 -- Day 3: 2, 04-11

48. Kevin Ledoux -- Choctaw, OK -- 9, 26-04 -- 51 -- $10,000
Day 1: 4, 11-00 -- Day 2: 5, 15-04 -- Day 3: 0, 00-00

49. Alton Jones -- Woodway, TX -- 9, 23-15 -- 50 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-12 -- Day 2: 4, 11-03 -- Day 3: 0, 00-00